Education

School Budget Passes; Keane, Swift, Furfaro Win Board Seats

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Board of Education President Leslie Mancuso, right, extends congratulations to Penny Swift for winning one of three school board seats in Tuesday night's election. Credits: Bob Dumas
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Severe storms knocked out power at the high school and staff had to string lights throughout the gym and use generators so the election could continue. Credits: Bob Dumas
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MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Mahopac School District voters went to the polls Tuesday and overwhelmingly passed the budget by a 912 to 394 margin.

Additionally, the Board of Education will get an infusion of new blood as three new trustees were voted in.

The $123.3 million budget actually called for a reduction in the tax rate. According to Greg Sullivan, the district’s interim assistant superintendent for business, the tax rate will decrease from $23.06 per $1,000 of assessed value to $22.77. For a home assessed at $300,000, the tax bill would drop from $6,918 to $6,830, a decrease of $87.38.  

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However, Superintendent Anthony DiCarlo said that both the budget vote and board election is subject to change. Severe thunderstorms that swept through the area late Tuesday afternoon knocked out power throughout Putnam County and felled trees blocked roads. Carmel Highway Superintendent Mike Simone said 24 trees were down in the Carmel/Mahopac area and three roads were closed. Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell declared a state of emergency. However, if Gov. Cuomo declares a state of emergency as well, DiCarlo said it is possible that area school districts could be forced to it all over again.

Mahopac High School, where the elections were held, lost power at 6 p.m. and staff strung lights throughout the gymnasium so the vote could continue. The power came back on just after the polls closed and ballots were being counted.

“I don’t know what will happen,” DiCarlo said. “We have to wait and see. People who work in the city had trouble getting back home to vote and if the governor declares a state of emergency we could have to do it all over again.”

Sullivan said he’d never seen anything like it in his career and said he couldn’t predict what would happen.

But if Tuesday night’s results hold, school officials said they were pleased that Mahopac voters enthusiastically supported the budget.

“I want to thank the voters for their continued confidence in this board,” said Leslie Mancuso, school board president. “It was a good budget and a fair budget. We worked really hard to keep the numbers where they needed to be so everyone can afford to stay in Mahopac.”

DiCarlo said he thinks voters were aware the board and administration is trying to “right-size” the district, meaning they were trying to compensate for a shrinking enrollment.

“Through attrition and retirement we are reallocating money to areas of need,” he said. “We talked about safety, we talked about advancing our STEM program, and we talked about adding health teachers. So, we are very excited about it. We are able to cut the tax rate without having to cut any programs or jobs and that is what we want to continue to do.”

In the race for school board pitting five candidates seeking three seat, Larry Keane, Penny Swift and Dave Furfaro were the top vote-getters. Keane garnered 823 votes; Swift was second with 813; Furfaro took third with 712 votes. Ray McDonough came in fourth with 497 votes; Dennis Forte received 456.

The three newcomers will replace Roger Bell and Daniel Hunter who declined to seek re-election, and Brian Mahoney, who resigned from his seat last year.

Proposition B, which allocates $1 million for new buses, passed 866 to 433.

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